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Church squeezed out of Cypriot banks

26/11/2014 15:33
The Church declared inability to exercise its pre-emptive rights in the share capital increase of Hellenic Bank and its stake will be significantly reduced.

According to Archbishop Chrysostomos, who manages the Church’s economic affairs, the Church cannot invest €17 million to exercise its pre-emptive rights and the decision that has been taken is that they will be sold.

"We are no longer interested in the percentage of share capital held in banks”, the Archbishop said.

The rights will begin to be traded to today. The bank seeks to raise as much as €220 million to cover the capital shortage identified in the recent European stress tests.
The church used to have major stakes in both the Bank of Cyprus and the Hellenic Bank.

“We have spent a lot of money in banks and we have suffered great damage”, said the Archbishop yesterday.

“It is now wise for the Church to turn to other investments”.

Asked what investment he means, the Archbishop referred to the existing investments of the Church, such as the hotel units in Vassiliko, the plastic and pipes factories and the beer manufacturer KEO.

"Our goal," he said, "is to grow these companies and to channel our activity in these sectors”.

“The Church needs financial leeway to fulfill its mission”, he clarified.

The Church of Cyprus is one of the biggest property owners in Cyprus. It has not published audited financial accounts for years and is thought to be making significant losses.

The bank shares used to be a major source of dividend revenue for the Church.